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Str8Foolish
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So something's been bugging me lately about free market purists, namely the assumptions they make about the human organism. The basic idea is that human agents in a market, acting on their individual whims and desires, will act in a way that aggregates into a sustainable and adaptive economy that makes everyone's lives better. Right? Am I missing something?

Okay, so here's my problem: Why are humans able to do that? I know we're rational, but we're not 100% rational, far from it. Consider high obesity rates in the US. People don't roll up to McDonalds thinking "Hey I really want to get fat and die of heart disease." they roll up thinking "Cheeseburger tastes gud take my money." Why is this? Because we evolved in an environment where fats and sugars are somewhat hard to come by, so our stomach and taste buds tell us to suck every last drop when we find it. Unfortunately, in the modern world, this isn't sustainable and is in fact dangerous.

Now, our natural whims and desires are largely flawed when it comes to fucking feeding ourselves, our rationality fails us and we make short-sighted decisions with long-term detriments. But somehow I'm supposed to believe these whims and desires DO line up perfectly for allocating resources in a 7 billion person, post industrial, computerized, global economy?

Cheesecake's been around since Ancient Rome, and we still aren't at all adapted to its presence and get fat as fuck when it's cheap and available. The aforementioned conditions are practically brand new to humans, having only existed for a few generations. Now, I didn't go to a Southern school, so I do know a bit about evolution, and I know that it takes a little more than a half-dozen generations for selection pressures to force adaptations. We seem to be pretty amateurish at this stuff, as simply changing the colors of a brand logo has been found to affect sales, we're clearly influenced by very trivial and irrelevant manipulations in our purchasing decisions.

Every other species on Earth will eat its food supply into nothingness in the absence of predators, this is the primal version of the Tragedy of the Commons. So why are humans immune? Is a spark of rationality, even one competing with irrational instincts, lusts, emotions, religions, etc, sufficient for Capitalism to work? Did we somehow evolve, despite the absence of selection pressures, into a creature capable of managing its entire population based entirely on individual selfishness, even when that population scales to 7 billion people? Or did God put the divine spark for markets in us?

tldr: Capitalists, where do you stand on evolution/creationism/ID and how does that relate to your belief in market infallibility?

[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 1:12 PM. Reason : .]

1/18/2012 1:07:15 PM

aaronburro
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Quote :
"The basic idea is that human agents in a market, acting on their individual whims and desires, will act in a way that aggregates into a sustainable and adaptive economy that makes everyone's lives better. Right? Am I missing something?"

and that is wholly and entirely wrong. I don't know too many people who would agree with that statement. [/thread]

1/18/2012 1:17:40 PM

mrfrog

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^ To be fair, your opinion here would argue against free markets. I'm not saying that leads to another alternative, because any alternative could be worse. But you are no doubt arguing against a free market.

Quote :
"Cheesecake's been around since Ancient Rome"


You're seriously going to argue that eating cheesecake is maladaptive behavior? Watch a person eating a slice of cheesecake. Ask yourself: is that decreasing the odds the person has successful offspring?

1/18/2012 1:32:32 PM

Str8Foolish
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Don't offer an alternative summary of Capitalism or anything, aaronburro, wouldn't want anybody to think you have anything inside your ahead aside from rocks and semen.


Quote :
"
You're seriously going to argue that eating cheesecake is maladaptive behavior? Watch a person eating a slice of cheesecake. Ask yourself: is that decreasing the odds the person has successful offspring?
"


I'm using cheesecake as a representative of the fact that our sensory and digestive systems aren't accustomed to readily available fats and sugars, so many of us eat like pigs. And yes, it does decrease your odds of having offspring at all if you're a fat greasy slob who eats too much cheesecake. And if you're a pregnant woman who's overweight, your odds of miscarriage and birth defects rise substantially. Even if you manage to have kids, being obese increases your chances of dying young, which increases the chances of your kid being stuck with one or zero parents, hurting their emotional and mental development, impacting their ability to attract mates in the future. Not to mention, parents tend to pass on their eating habits to their children, so if obesity didn't make you die forever alone, your kids still might.

Eating cheesecake with no abandon isn't pro-survival, I can't believe THIS is the part I'm having to defend.


[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 1:39 PM. Reason : /]

1/18/2012 1:33:05 PM

mrfrog

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rewinding a bit...

Quote :
"Cheesecake's been around since Ancient Rome"


Behavior isn't always adaptive or maladaptive. It changes based on the environment. If you're living in an environment with scarce food, then it may be an adaptive behavior and then later be maladaptive in a world with plenty food.

Genes compete throughout every type of environment the human race is subjected to. If there's 3 generations of plenty followed by 3 generations of little, then the gene combinations that do the best from start to finish are the winners.

For how many generations since the Roman Empire has a cheesecake preference been maladaptive? Those taste buds are working just fine.

1/18/2012 2:27:18 PM

Str8Foolish
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Maybe you're trolling but I want to make sure you at least understand that you're splitting hairs over a tertiary aspect of the argument I'm making. The main argument is that an individual's evolved desires and inclinations take time to adjust to a changing environment, and so it seems odd to me for Capitalists to be so certain that our individual desires and inclinations are attuned such that global Capitalism will work out despite a rapidly changing environment.

If you seriously just want to debate cheesecake in particular maybe we can start another thread.

And no, our taste buds are not just fine, otherwise we wouldn't be seeing obesity growing rapidly in almost all of the developed countries where sugary, fatty foods are widely available. It's pretty obvious that our inclinations for consumption are not attuned in a sustainable way to the availability of sugary and fatty foods.

Edit: Because you're being really pedantic I'll head you off and point out that it's not really the taste buds that are maladapted so much as the shut-off mechanisms in our brain that regulate appetite.

[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 2:56 PM. Reason : .]

1/18/2012 2:45:03 PM

aaronburro
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Quote :
"Don't offer an alternative summary of Capitalism or anything, aaronburro, wouldn't want anybody to think you have anything inside your ahead aside from rocks and semen."

the alternative summary to free market capitalism is that the markets adjust to demand better than a planned economy would. It's not that the market magically aggregates into something that is "the best" for everyone and "improves their lives," as you've stated. The rest of your "problem" is built upon that incorrect assumption. The market, on its own, adjusts well to demand, but that literally says nothing about whether the demand, itself, is for what is best for us.

1/18/2012 2:51:11 PM

Str8Foolish
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Quote :
"the alternative summary to free market capitalism is that the markets adjust to demand better than a planned economy would."


That's not a summary, it's a value judgement against an alternative.

Quote :
" It's not that the market magically aggregates into something that is "the best" for everyone and "improves their lives," as you've stated."


I never said anything about magic, I was talking entirely about supply and demand in the idealized Capitalist economy. I thought the whole point was that people engage in mutually beneficial transactions.

Quote :
" The rest of your "problem" is built upon that incorrect assumption. The market, on its own, adjusts well to demand, but that literally says nothing about whether the demand, itself, is for what is best for us."


OH okay then, sounds like maybe we should monitor and tweak markets to make sure they don't lead us down unsustainable or damaging paths.

1/18/2012 2:56:01 PM

d357r0y3r
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Let's establish something first. I've tried to do this before and people have glossed over it, so there's no excuse in this thread.

The free market: all voluntary transactions between individuals. Pollution is not included in "the free market". Theft, murder, and rape are not included in "the free market". When I talk about the free market, I mean exchanges of a good or a service in exchange for a good or a service. When I advocate free market capitalism, I am actually advocating a purely voluntarist society with no coercion. It is an ideal, something to work for, not something I think is likely to happen in our lifetime or maybe ever.

The earliest governments were brutal, warlike, and despotic. Over time, we have formed better governments that embraced liberal values. We have worked away from authoritarianism and gotten closer to libertarianism/voluntarism in the modern era.

Quote :
"The basic idea is that human agents in a market, acting on their individual whims and desires, will act in a way that aggregates into a sustainable and adaptive economy that makes everyone's lives better."


That's not at all the claim. The claim is that the free market is better than state control. Three people on an island, one of them has a gun. Are we really to believe that the one with the gun will act in a way that is equitable and fair to the others, or will he secure resources for himself and deny resources from others?

Quote :
"Okay, so here's my problem: Why are humans able to do that? I know we're rational, but we're not 100% rational, far from it."


What do you mean by rational? People act in a way that they believe will achieve their ends. Most people want to eat; this is hardwired in our brains. Rationality in no way implies that people know what is good for them. That requires knowledge, which we collectively have a lot of. Our problem is that there are power structures deliberately designed to prevent the spread of knowledge.

Quote :
"Consider high obesity rates in the US. People don't roll up to McDonalds thinking "Hey I really want to get fat and die of heart disease." they roll up thinking "Cheeseburger tastes gud take my money." Why is this? Because we evolved in an environment where fats and sugars are somewhat hard to come by, so our stomach and taste buds tell us to suck every last drop when we find it. Unfortunately, in the modern world, this isn't sustainable and is in fact dangerous."

Quote :
"Cheesecake's been around since Ancient Rome, and we still aren't at all adapted to its presence and get fat as fuck when it's cheap and available. The aforementioned conditions are practically brand new to humans, having only existed for a few generations. Now, I didn't go to a Southern school, so I do know a bit about evolution, and I know that it takes a little more than a half-dozen generations for selection pressures to force adaptations. We seem to be pretty amateurish at this stuff, as simply changing the colors of a brand logo has been found to affect sales, we're clearly influenced by very trivial and irrelevant manipulations in our purchasing decisions."


Humans evolved in an environment where calorie rich food was not abundant. There has not been sufficient time to "adapt" to this environment where cheap, calorie rich food is abundant. This requires that humans educate themselves on the human body.

In fact, it's quite possible to eat fattening foods like cheesecake, and a lot of it, and not get fat. Martin Berkhan at leangains.com does it, and I follow a similar diet. I pig out frequently (usually once or twice a day), and then fast for 14-20 hours at time.

http://www.leangains.com/2011/12/cheesecake-master-martin-presents.html



Not someone that we would consider "obese". We do have basic, primal instincts, but we also have the ability to overcome these desires and act in a way that yields better results. Those that have become obese are suffering from some combination of ignorance and lack of willpower.

To address your next point, humans are clearly not immune to the tragedy of the commons, but they are capable of overcoming it. We have language and rationality.

Some of your points are valid, but they are not damning of capitalism, just humanity. There isn't an alternative to capitalism. If there is no private property, then we have tragedy of the commons unleashed upon the entire globe. You have failed to offer any alternative to private ownership. We've all heard the platitudes about worker's councils and democratic institutions, but there's no coherent plan for getting there.

[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 3:12 PM. Reason : ]

1/18/2012 3:01:53 PM

aaronburro
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Quote :
"That's not a summary, it's a value judgement against an alternative."

well, we often compare the two. how bout this, then: free markets adjust well to changes in demand. is that better? it doesn't change anything else I said.

Quote :
"I thought the whole point was that people engage in mutually beneficial transactions."

and, again, that's where you are wrong. You've got the basic premise wrong, and that leads to the rest of your incorrect logic. If, by "mutually beneficial" you are meaning "things that are always good for us," then you are not correct.

Quote :
"OH okay then, sounds like maybe we should monitor and tweak markets to make sure they don't lead us down unsustainable or damaging paths."

I've got not problem with that, on its face. It all depends on how far down that rabbit hole you want to go, because at some point you will remove the ability of the markets to adjust to demand, and you get some of the messes we have today, such as the housing crash.

1/18/2012 3:02:06 PM

MattJMM2
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Quote :
"So something's been bugging me lately about free market purists, namely the assumptions they make about the human organism. The basic idea is that human agents in a market, acting on their individual whims and desires, will act in a way that aggregates into a sustainable and adaptive economy that makes everyone's lives better. Right? Am I missing something?"


IMO, that is all correct except the statement: "makes everyone's lives better"

Each individual acts in self interest, with or without, taking in to consideration it's effects on others or on their long term well being.

Self interest manifests in multiple forms. An effective way of looking at it is in terms of time... I may be interested in blowing all my money on coke and hookers and having a blast in the short term, but in long run this may not be the best strategy for my bank account or health.

An individuals ability to make decisions will affect how their life unfolds. The effect of self interest is relative to how well an individual can connect present decisions with future consequences.

If this free market is accompanied with the protections of life, liberty, and private property and the individual has the foresight that learning, working smart/hard, and saving are important to building wealth; then that person should do very well.

Quote :
"Every other species on Earth will eat its food supply into nothingness in the absence of predators, this is the primal version of the Tragedy of the Commons. So why are humans immune? Is a spark of rationality, even one competing with irrational instincts, lusts, emotions, religions, etc, sufficient for Capitalism to work? Did we somehow evolve, despite the absence of selection pressures, into a creature capable of managing its entire population based entirely on individual selfishness, even when that population scales to 7 billion people? Or did God put the divine spark for markets in us? "


The balance of the ecosystem works eerily similar to free markets. Supply of prey goes up, the easier predators can feed. Predator population increases, prey gets reduced, and then predators decline. Back and forth the ecosystem goes.

Humans are not immune to this. Not sure where you get that idea. If a market is created and there is too much demand and not enough supply, it will eventually die out. Just like your example. Thankfully technology and innovation allows for the creation of new markets and methods for sustainability.

And here is the problem: When the government starts giving out entitlements, manipulating markets, and creating regulations that hurt competition, it creates the same artificial scenario of a specie with no natural predators.


If an individual continues to make irrational or unhealthy decisions, they will eventually suffer the consequences. Since we have all evolved the self-interest instinct to survive AND thrive, the people who can make rational choices based on long term benefits will survive successfully.

1/18/2012 3:11:28 PM

mrfrog

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Quote :
"The main argument is that an individual's evolved desires and inclinations take time to adjust to a changing environment, and so it seems odd to me for Capitalists to be so certain that our individual desires and inclinations are attuned such that global Capitalism will work out despite a rapidly changing environment."


Here's where you're way off base:

10,000 years is a heartbeat. We have the vernacular of natural selection and evolution. Natural selection can work like a step change function. I mean, a change in the environment can (for the purposes of evolution) selectively kill every organism with a certain phenotype instantly. To say that natural selection is meaningfully reducing obesity is flatly wrong. Not many nations in the world have an obesity problem, and even in Mississippi (possibly the fattest place on Earth), the selective pressure against obesity is weak.

Not to mention...

There are other selective pressures for things correlated with obesity. Like short term investment preference, which causes less education, which causes more children earlier in life. Look, I agree there is selective pressure against obesity, but for even the fattest of the fattest demographic there is no evidence to say that, given sufficient time, an obesity predisposition would be weeded out.

It would seem that "trolling" has become the act of disagreeing with the popular dogma of modern social Darwinism. Well it's wrong.

I see a lot of people evaluating people of the Walmart trash America as unfit people, even though it's a demonstrably false proposition. I agree our nation is filled with people who lead terrible lives. Humans were thrust into the agrarian way of living and then into the industrial way of living. We aren't creatures evolved for either of these, and least of all the industrial. The proposition of "given sufficient time..." is inapplicable for completely obvious reasons, the most powerful of which being the fact that our current way of living is unsustainable. Not only are we not given sufficient time to adapt to our environment genetically, but we can't be given sufficient time by the simple underlying geology of our petrol-economy.

Honestly, what does the level of adaptation to our current society matter in the first place? It's a temporary and artificial environment. Even one adapted to this environment (which is completely undefinable in the first place) can't be said to be "fit" in the genetic sense.

Saying the a taste for cheesecake is maladaptive is beyond wrong. There's only a very small window in which the argument even had internal consistency.

[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM. Reason : ]

1/18/2012 3:45:40 PM

Prawn Star
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I certainly don't believe that the market is infallible, but attempts by governments and central banks to make corrections to the market has led us to this very precipitous position we are at now, where a seemingly innocuous event like a Greek default now threatens the Eurozone, and by extension the global economy.

Quote :
" In a significant essay for Foreign Affairs, “The Black Swan of Cairo,” Nassim Taleb shows how the efforts of our authorities to suppress volatility actually end up making the world less predictable and more dangerous.

“Although the stated intention of political leaders and economic policy makers is to stabilize the system by inhibiting fluctuations, the result tends to be the opposite. These artificially constrained systems become prone to “Black Swans” – that is, they become extremely vulnerable to large-scale events that lie far from the statistical norm and were largely unpredictable to a given set of observers.” "


[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 4:05 PM. Reason : 2]

1/18/2012 4:04:16 PM

d357r0y3r
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^Link to the whole article: http://www.sovereignman.com/expat/the-final-countdown/

1/18/2012 4:32:14 PM

LoneSnark
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I always thought about it the other way. Human beings are irrational capricious self interested individuals, as such we need to design a system where-by we can minimize the damage this causes. Therefore, placing an irrational capricious self interested human being into a position of power over other human beings will only multiply the damage.

Irrational human beings in a free market system suffer manageable environmental degradation, manageable suboptimal resource allocation, and various disasters on individual levels (bankruptcy, health failures, poverty, crime, etc).

Meanwhile, irrational human beings in a top-down managed system suffer environmental collapse, disastrous resource allocation, and social wide disasters (stagnation, starvation, war, political extermination, totalitarianism, etc).

Choose your poison.

1/18/2012 6:32:08 PM

aaronburro
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I love how everyone who has come in here to disagree has essentially said the same thing: your basic premise is wrong. that's some damned fine stupidity there

1/18/2012 7:59:56 PM

moron
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Quote :
"the alternative summary to free market capitalism is that the markets adjust to demand better than a planned economy would. It's not that the market magically aggregates into something that is "the best" for everyone and "improves their lives," as you've stated. The rest of your "problem" is built upon that incorrect assumption. The market, on its own, adjusts well to demand, but that literally says nothing about whether the demand, itself, is for what is best for us.
"


How do you define "planned economy"?

And when you say "adjusts to demand" that seems like a meaningless statement. This could mean a situation like where the robber-barons dominated a market, and have masses of people practically economically enslaved to them, to a pervasively agrarian society that resists technology expansion. "Adjusting to demand" is only truly a desirable quality when it does so in a way that maximizes positive outcomes, which no one has argued a "free market" can inherently do.

Quote :
"Three people on an island, one of them has a gun. Are we really to believe that the one with the gun will act in a way that is equitable and fair to the others, or will he secure resources for himself and deny resources from others?"


This is a poor analogy. I would believe that 3 people on an island would cooperate even if one of them had a gun. If there were 100 people on an island, and one of them had a gun, the gun is still irrelevant. But what's interesting is that if there were 100 people on an island, they would most likely end up electing a leader, or splinter to have multiple leaders, and establish their own rules and regulations for their society, that STILL would most likely not be a "free market" like some people here harp about.

Quote :
"Those that have become obese are suffering from some combination of ignorance and lack of willpower."


This literally goes against practically every study and analysis of this issue. It doesn't even pass the common sense test. People have more information than ever on food issues and things have just been getting worse. You could attribute it to will power, but then you would be demanding that people match a level of will power that past generations didn't have to match, which is not very free-markety.

Quote :
" There isn't an alternative to capitalism. "


This i would mostly agree with for the time being, but the vast majority of people don't argue against capitalism. Most people would agree with the idea that a market needs rules, regulations, and tweaking from time to time.

1/18/2012 9:06:22 PM

Chance
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Did the OP not answer his own question and didn't know it?

There was never any sort of time constraints mentioned in any of his post. And as others rightly pointed out evolution takes a long time to happen. Is it not self evident that the hogs will be selected out and what we will be left with is a healthier (thus more productive for us all) population who also happens to eat less calories in total (thus making more room for more healthy of us)?

Just as bad businesses (the fat people) can stay in business for quite a long time wasting resources (eating more food than they need), the market will eventually remove them from the gene pool.

Quote :
"Now, our natural whims and desires are largely flawed when it comes to fucking feeding ourselves"

On an individual basis, sure. But on a system basis, it doesn't seem so.


Btw, the implication here is that EVERYONE that its eating terribly is going to grow into an obese blob and I just don't think that is the case. I've managed to stay in the 170lb to 185lb range with what I'd consider drastically varying diets and activity levels. If I look at how much I worked out and how healthy I ate when I was at 170 versus how much of a sloth I've become and how shitty my diet is now I can't understand how I'm not 210lbs or more by now.

1/18/2012 9:45:25 PM

moron
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Quote :
" Btw, the implication here is that EVERYONE that its eating terribly is going to grow into an obese blob and I just don't think that is the case. "


That's not the implication at all.

The point was that even with modern technology, nutrition facts labels, tons of education, people still gorge on unhealthy foods to the point that on a statistical level, people are getting fatter and less healthy in many ways.

It's the OVERALL TREND that he was pointing out, not the outlier, anecdotal case you/destroyer are point out.

I know that you have at least a basic grasp of statistics...

When it comes to the American diet, the free market has clearly chosen the wrong solutions.

1/18/2012 9:50:12 PM

LoneSnark
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Quote :
"what we will be left with is a healthier (thus more productive for us all) population who also happens to eat less calories in total (thus making more room for more healthy of us)?"

Other than welfare queens, fat people pay their own way. Eating too much is just like any costly non-productive activity such as buying DVDs, going sky-diving, visiting Hawaii, or having sex with a condom. If fat people stopped eating so much, less food would be produced, and more would be produced of whatever it was they chose to spend their money on instead. It is unclear that whatever they chose to do instead would be less resource intensive. Food production is pretty resource intensive, but per dollar not as intensive as a vacation to Hawaii.

Quote :
"Cheesecake's been around since Ancient Rome, and we still aren't at all adapted to its presence and get fat as fuck when it's cheap and available."

Right now, cheesecake is universally cheap and available, yet most of us are not fat as fuck. Your premise is obviously flawed.

[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 10:17 PM. Reason : .,.]

1/18/2012 10:10:05 PM

Chance
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Quote :
"That's not the implication at all."


I wasn't replying to you. It absolutely was implicit in the first post that eating what the OP is labeling as "bad food" effects everyone negatively the same and that just isn't the case. Sure, just looking at the statistics there is a reason certain foods are called "bad foods", but it isn't obvious from our vantage point if it will always be that way.

Quote :
"If fat people stopped eating so much, less food would be produced"


Dude, we don't need canned replies of macro theory. Everyone knows it and it's just kind of ~ to reply to it. Think about what you just said and how that would actually play out in reality? It wouldn't.

Quote :
"The point was that even with modern technology, nutrition facts labels, tons of education, people still gorge on unhealthy foods to the point that on a statistical level, people are getting fatter and less healthy in many ways.
"

And? The argument was that we're dealing our (collective) genetics a blow and we are somehow setting the species back by engaging in this behavior - the analog being that Capitalism can destroy itself in the same way. I think several folks now have put to bed the idea that we are setting the genome back by eating "unhealthy".

Quote :
"When it comes to the American diet, the free market has clearly chosen the wrong solutions."

Are you kidding? This is why people don't take liberals seriously anymore. Who has decided these choices are wrong? The aggregate certainly hasn't because on and individual basis we continue to choose them. We have as a society decided a leisurely lifestyle of movies, American Idol, twitter, video games, and eating like fucking kings far outweighs the cost of these choices. Only the biggest of big government hacks like yourself would have the audacity to tell me the choices I'm making for myself based on my own value judgement is wrong. Fuck you.

[Edited on January 18, 2012 at 10:24 PM. Reason : .]

1/18/2012 10:16:30 PM

moron
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Quote :
"And? The argument was that we're dealing our (collective) genetics a blow and we are somehow setting the species back by engaging in this behavior - the analog being that Capitalism can destroy itself in the same way. I think several folks now have put to bed the idea that we are setting the genome back by eating "unhealthy".
"


I don't see anyone who has put that to bed. It's mind boggling that people are so ignorant or delusional or dissonant that they would argue there's nothing wrong (in the sense of long-term stability) with our current diet. This isn't a value judgement, as much as it's a fact.

Quote :
"Are you kidding? This is why people don't take liberals seriously anymore. Who has decided these choices are wrong? The aggregate certainly hasn't because on and individual basis we continue to choose them. We have as a society decided a leisurely lifestyle of movies, American Idol, twitter, video games, and eating like fucking kings far outweighs the cost of these choices. Only the biggest of big government hacks like yourself would have the audacity to tell me the choices I'm making for myself based on my own value judgement is wrong. Fuck you.
"


LOL, you can't see the irony in your statement here? You're saying that just because something is average, it must be the right thing.

It's so clear now, you've convinced me that being average is what society should pride itself on, ha.

And if you're a fat slob, then yes, you are wrong, your values are skewed, and if you are proud of this, you should be marginalized by society.

1/18/2012 10:33:18 PM

Chance
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Quote :
"I don't see anyone who has put that to bed. It's mind boggling that people are so ignorant or delusional or dissonant that they would argue there's nothing wrong (in the sense of long-term stability) with our current diet."


Please, tell me what is "wrong" about it. Please in your all knowing all wise all "let me tell you how to live your life" way what is wrong about individuals deciding for themselves how the fuck they want to live their life?

Quote :
"LOL, you can't see the irony in your statement here? You're saying that just because something is average, it must be the right thing."

LOL, you can't see the irony in your statement here? You're saying that just because something is average, it must be the wrong thing?

Quote :
"And if you're a fat slob, then yes, you are wrong, your values are skewed, and if you are proud of this, you should be marginalized by society."


See, now you're all butt hurt. Or maybe you aren't and you really do care to insert yourself into other peoples lives like the good little liberal you are. Why stop at people that value eating too much food? Why not stop all physical activity as concussions, broken bones, lacerations, and death are all negative consequences of engaging in activities we enjoy. Lets put governors on all cars so they can't go over 45mph because of the negative consequences. Why not hand craft a bubble wrapped society to suit your liberal wishes. This is the ideology you subscribe to and frankly it's downright scary.

1/18/2012 11:01:25 PM

Socks``
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Quote :
"I always thought about it the other way. Human beings are irrational capricious self interested individuals, as such we need to design a system where-by we can minimize the damage this causes. Therefore, placing an irrational capricious self interested human being into a position of power over other human beings will only multiply the damage.

Irrational human beings in a free market system suffer manageable environmental degradation, manageable suboptimal resource allocation, and various disasters on individual levels (bankruptcy, health failures, poverty, crime, etc).

Meanwhile, irrational human beings in a top-down managed system suffer environmental collapse, disastrous resource allocation, and social wide disasters (stagnation, starvation, war, political extermination, totalitarianism, etc).

Choose your poison.
"

-LoneSnark

+1

[Edited on January 19, 2012 at 11:59 AM. Reason : ``]

1/19/2012 11:59:30 AM

Str8Foolish
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Quote :
"
Right now, cheesecake is universally cheap and available, yet most of us are not fat as fuck. Your premise is obviously flawed. "








That's just obesity. For overweightness in general, we're at 63% nationwide, second in the world.

Loneshark, there's a tool I use to find out if the things I'm thinking have any merit or basis in reality, why don't you try it: http://www.google.com

Also lmao are you guys missing every point. Saying "this diet is bad for you" is not a value judgement, it's simple fact. I'm not saying "you should eat this" or making a case for a government controlled diet, just using it as a clear example of how we are in many ways unadapted for managing and allocating based on selfish desire alone. Don't try and get the point though, instead continue trying to argue that eating cheeseburgers all fucking day isn't bad for you because dern libruls say it is and libruls are always wrong thus eating cheeseburgers all day is good for you!

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 9:19 AM. Reason : .]

1/20/2012 9:15:01 AM

Str8Foolish
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Quote :
"
Irrational human beings in a free market system suffer manageable environmental degradation, manageable suboptimal resource allocation, and various disasters on individual levels (bankruptcy, health failures, poverty, crime, etc)."


Lol, you're describing the American experience, which is almost entirely shielded from the negatives since we outsource the suffering to other countries. Why don't you amble down to Africa and ask some whip-scarred diamond miners how minor they think the drawbacks are. Or maybe visit South America and ask how minor the pollution is from American oil and gas companies? For the most part, only finished products reach America, and most Americans are sheltered from imagery of the full chain of production, which is far more grisly than what we see in our daily lives.

Quote :
"Meanwhile, irrational human beings in a top-down managed system suffer environmental collapse, disastrous resource allocation, and social wide disasters (stagnation, starvation, war, political extermination, totalitarianism, etc)."


Depends on what they're managing, with what rigor, and who does the managing.

A single dictator with very little knowledge on what he's managing in a pre-computerized time (Let's say, like Stalin) will of course do a horrible job. That's a no brainer.

Give him computers that offer far more statistical insight than a dozen accountants manually filling in paper spreadsheets, he might do a bit better.

Take all that data and show it to the public so they can vote on it, you'll probably end up with allocations closer to what they want.

Give the data to specialists in various fields and let them make their cases to the people before they vote and you'll probably get even better results.

Maybe let individual industries manage themselves democratically, that's another option (somewhat like the Trade Unionism of Sweden). Or individual firms (Many companies in Spain and Brazil, and to an extant most Japanese firms), or individual communities of workers simply sharing productive infrastructure and democratically allocating profits (Kibbutzes).

There's 5,000 ways to attempt collective reflection on consumption and allocation, but there's only one way to do a laissez faire free market. You can't seem to conceive of this being a possibility, that an ideology might actually have more than one possible implementation and not an absolutist ideal. The fact that you repeatedly rely on strawmanning Socialism as always being necessarily a top-down centralized-to-a-single-dictator totalitarian slave state shows that either you're wildly ignorant, wildly small-minded, or wildly disingenuous.

Quote :
"Choose your poison."


I choose the one where we actually attempt collective self-reflection instead of wandering around willfully blind to the aggregate outcomes of our individual actions. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranny_of_small_decisions. I know you don't believe in AGW...obviously you can't, because it'd shatter your entire worldview if a private market caused the greatest environmental calamity in history, but AGW for those not in denial is a prime example of a global market failure with global consequences. Occurring not because of any evil or malignant force, just from the fact that sometimes unrestrained individual self interest can lead to collective threats when left externalities aren't assessed collectively.

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 9:56 AM. Reason : .]

1/20/2012 9:27:45 AM

Str8Foolish
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Here Loneshark, great example of the government sitting back and letting individuals act on their "rational self interest" without collective oversight/self-reflection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation_in_Haiti

At the very least, you need a collective governing body to assess costs of an http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality like pollution and enforce appropriate taxes or fees in place of price controls.

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 9:40 AM. Reason : .]

1/20/2012 9:37:56 AM

Str8Foolish
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Quote :
"
Humans evolved in an environment where calorie rich food was not abundant. There has not been sufficient time to "adapt" to this environment where cheap, calorie rich food is abundant. This requires that humans educate themselves on the human body."


That's great, but does every human have the time available to do it? What's the point of 300 million humans individually doing this when we can have something like the FDA to do so on our behalf an inform us? This goes for almost all products: Corporations often have people (we call them marketers) to deliberately hide negatives and boast positives, actively deceive and conceal through advertising. Those handful of people in the marketing department do work that ends up affecting hundreds of millions of potential customers. It's not a fair trade, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_asymmetry is the assured default unless consumers band together to share the work of research they'd otherwise have to do individually.

Quote :
"In fact, it's quite possible to eat fattening foods like cheesecake, and a lot of it, and not get fat. Martin Berkhan at leangains.com does it, and I follow a similar diet. I pig out frequently (usually once or twice a day), and then fast for 14-20 hours at time."


This is only possible because of education undertaken with the express intent of deviating from your natural desires and inclinations. To individually educate yourself in a similar way for everything you consume would give you no time to actually work or consume. Again, this is why we have consumer protection agencies, the deck is stacked against the consumer by default.


Also, apologies for the quadruple post, but I like to at least separate them by who I'm responding to.

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM. Reason : .]

1/20/2012 10:05:31 AM

aaronburro
BigMan rules
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Quote :
"I choose the one where we actually attempt collective self-reflection instead of wandering around willfully blind to the aggregate outcomes of our individual actions."

too bad no one here is saying there should be zero regulation of any sort, except for maybe destroyer. I do love how you've moved the hell out of those goalposts, though. You started out with a simple premise that was shown to be demonstrably wrong, and continued to argue. good work, man

1/20/2012 10:08:36 AM

mrfrog

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Quote :
""Those that have become obese are suffering from some combination of ignorance and lack of willpower."


This literally goes against practically every study and analysis of this issue. It doesn't even pass the common sense test. People have more information than ever on food issues and things have just been getting worse."


-d357r0y3r
--moron

I just want to point out that this was one of the most effective arguments I've seen.


Quote :
""Now, our natural whims and desires are largely flawed when it comes to fucking feeding ourselves"

On an individual basis, sure. But on a system basis, it doesn't seem so."


-Str8Foolish, OP
--Chance


meh, sort of. I have some leanings to agree with this. I think we can agree that overeating as seen today is "bad", but then we must go about defining that word. People's problem ITT is taking "bad" to mean a huge list of things that don't make any sense.


Quote :
"I think several folks now have put to bed the idea that we are setting the genome back by eating "unhealthy". "



We're not setting any genome to anything. If you want to talk about how we're screwing up natural selection processes, look no further than condoms. In fact, the only valid argument to keep using condoms in the first place is that natural selection isn't sufficiently relevant to the world's problems today.

But again, people are presupposing that evolution played any role in conscious decisions at all. That was never true and it will never be true. We are not the vassals of evolution. In many ways, our intellects spit in the face of evolution.

---

Also, there are 2 concepts discussed:
- free market
- evolution / natural selection

Certainly, there is something that these 2 things have in common, which relates to being self-organized and distributed. But in many people's arguments the two concepts become an incoherent blob.

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM. Reason : qts]

1/20/2012 11:01:22 AM

d357r0y3r
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Quote :
"That's great, but does every human have the time available to do it? What's the point of 300 million humans individually doing this when we can have something like the FDA to do so on our behalf an inform us? This goes for almost all products: Corporations often have people (we call them marketers) to deliberately hide negatives and boast positives, actively deceive and conceal through advertising. Those handful of people in the marketing department do work that ends up affecting hundreds of millions of potential customers. It's not a fair trade, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_asymmetry is the assured default unless consumers band together to share the work of research they'd otherwise have to do individually."


Because the government becomes corrupt and we get regulatory capture. The FDA approves drugs that kill more people than marijuana has in the history of humanity, yet marijuana is illegal. These agencies are not looking out for consumers. You'd have to be totally oblivious to not realize this.

And yes, we understand - if you were calling the shots, these agencies would be benign and a net positive. You're not calling the shots, and you will never be calling the shots. The people that get into these positions of power are, by nature, manipulative and self-serving.

Quote :
"This is only possible because of education undertaken with the express intent of deviating from your natural desires and inclinations. To individually educate yourself in a similar way for everything you consume would give you no time to actually work or consume. Again, this is why we have consumer protection agencies, the deck is stacked against the consumer by default."


It's not a function of time, it's a function of effort. It would be easier to say, "fuck it" and eat however I want and whenever I want. Every person has a responsibility to educate themselves, though. It's not the governments responsibility to make sure that you know how to feed yourself properly.

I'm all for organizations that look out for consumer interests, but I don't want those organizations run by the government. Why? Because those that stand to profit end up co-opting agencies because they can secure profits with the government's monopoly on force and regulation.

Quote :
"too bad no one here is saying there should be zero regulation of any sort, except for maybe destroyer"


Nope. There should be ample regulation, but when we allow a single, powerful entity to do all of the regulation, you can pretty much guarantee that there's going to be some fucked up conflicts of interest.

1/20/2012 11:05:18 AM

mrfrog

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some people argue regulation through deregulation

If, for instance, I didn't have assurances that products would correctly label how much trans fats they have, then I would sure as the sun shines look for an independent oversight company to give me accurate information. I would also pay them, directly or indirectly, to provide this service.

1/20/2012 11:09:10 AM

d357r0y3r
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^
Quote :
"I just want to point out that this was one of the most effective arguments I've seen."


You're being sarcastic, right? I said that obesity results from a combination of ignorance (not knowing how to lose weight and stay fit) and lack of willpower (inability to stay disciplined, despite knowing how to lose weight and stay fit).

moron then states that this goes against common sense. I mean, go ahead and argue with me on this point, because I really want to see where you want to go with this.

Also, yes, a lot of people have information on "food issues", most of it total bullshit found in pop fitness magazines, etc.

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM. Reason : ]

1/20/2012 11:09:33 AM

Chance
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Quote :
"You're not calling the shots, and you will never be calling the shots. The people that get into these positions of power are, by nature, manipulative and self-serving."


This is where liberals need to wake up. I think the only reason they exist is that they continue to cling to the hope that maybe one day we'll get the right people in government to really make lives better despite the mountains of evidence pointing to the idea that it just doesn't happen.

1/20/2012 11:33:38 AM

IMStoned420
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We've never been to Mars, but I wouldn't ever dream of saying we'll never go there.

1/20/2012 12:32:51 PM

aaronburro
BigMan rules
49836 Posts
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massive difference.

1/20/2012 12:37:11 PM

Shrike
All American
7722 Posts
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Having only cherry picked a few of the posts in this thread, this seems relevant to the discussion.

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-quebec-fast-food-ads-consumption-junk.html

Quote :
"By comparing English-speaking households, who were less likely to be affected by the ban, to French-speaking households, Baylis and co-author Tirtha Dhar, of the University of British Columbia, found evidence that the ban reduced fast-food expenditures by 13 percent per week in French-speaking households, leading to between 11 million and 22 million fewer fast-food meals eaten per year, or 2.2 billion to 4.4 billion fewer calories consumed by children."

1/20/2012 12:37:41 PM

mrfrog

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^ this makes a good point. We would all be better off by banning advertising for junk food. Pretty simple. And the people who were advertised to (but aren't any more) won't miss it, no doubt.

If I were a parent then I would prefer to have a TV that didn't show ads for fast food. So why hasn't the free market already used the method and fixed this problem? You don't want to see fast food ads? Fine, then just buy your TV and programming from companies who won't show them.

Libertarians, tell me again why this hasn't worked.

1/20/2012 1:04:41 PM

MattJMM2
CapitalStrength.com
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Don't allow your kids to watch MSM if you don't want them to be manipulated by advertising.

What is so hard about taking personal responsibility for what you and your children do?

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 1:12 PM. Reason : .]

1/20/2012 1:10:48 PM

mrfrog

15112 Posts
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Quote :
"What is so hard about taking personal responsibility "


It's ignorant of human nature to not include the concept of community responsibility. Take the most pious individual in all of history and he'll regress to a state of physical and mental decay like the rest of our nation given the right environment.

But way to reply with absolutism. If I argue individual responsibility as the center of my political philosophy, then I can simply say that all problems are the result of an individual's choices. A broken free will argument like yours can allow me to disavow myself of responsibility of any outcome our society faces.

1/20/2012 1:23:41 PM

d357r0y3r
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^^^First, I'm going to need you to respond to my reply to your claim that moron made a strong argument. If you can back that up at all, I'd be interested in what you have to say.

Second, I was explicitly clear about what the free market is in my first post in this thread. So, these questions of, "Why didn't the free market come up with perfect solutions?" are not warranted.

I guess the irony, though, is that the free market has come up with solutions. DVR. Hulu and internet-based entertainment. Or, you know, have some self control.

1/20/2012 1:24:45 PM

mrfrog

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Quote :
""Those that have become obese are suffering from some combination of ignorance and lack of willpower."


This literally goes against practically every study and analysis of this issue. It doesn't even pass the common sense test. People have more information than ever on food issues and things have just been getting worse."


I'm basically sure that obesity is different now than it was in the 1950s because people's environment has changed.

1/20/2012 1:28:50 PM

d357r0y3r
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How does that refute what I said? Knowledge and discipline are both products of environment. Even mental state (for instance, getting dumped by a girl, taking it poorly, and experiencing a downward spiral, eventually leading to unhealthy physical state) is influenced by environment.

I've really already addressed this. Calorie rich foods are now cheaper and more available than ever before. This is the case in other countries, as well - countries that are not experiencing obesity to the same degree. It's easier to be obese here, yes. This does not discount the individual factors that cause people to be obese or normal weight, however. Yes, there are broader explanations for why obesity is on the rise. Shit, look no further than the food pyramid pushed by the U.S. government for years and years that emphasized bread as the food that should be consumed the most.

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 1:42 PM. Reason : ]

1/20/2012 1:33:24 PM

mrfrog

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Quote :
"How does that refute what I said?"


I don't think I ever did refute what you said. I said the reply to what you said was effective.

I thought the "-" and "--" were creative, but I guess they gave the wrong message.

Quote :
"Shit, look no further than the food pyramid pushed by the U.S. government for years and years that emphasized bread as the food that should be consumed the most."


Yeah that was bad. Some people argue that the portion sizes are our main problems, but I think that (similar to how you were arguing) diverts the point. The composition of the food lends to increasing of portion size - the #1 example of which are fries and a soft drink. Those two sides have done vastly more to increase obesity in American than a shift to burgers or a change in the type of burgers we serve. Grain fillers act very similarly.

There was absolutely a systems-level change that happened. The belief that grains should be the "base" of our diet was a cultural shift in thinking. To speak on the broadest possible level, it's relevant to ask if prosperity, itself, leads to obesity, and there's plenty of reason to think that it doesn't.

To re-invoke the analogy of evolution, humans acting as a society (free market or not) often make dumb changes that don't help them. Like peacocks.

[Edited on January 20, 2012 at 2:16 PM. Reason : ]

1/20/2012 2:15:23 PM

d357r0y3r
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Quote :
"Yeah that was bad. Some people argue that the portion sizes are our main problems, but I think that (similar to how you were arguing) diverts the point. The composition of the food lends to increasing of portion size - the #1 example of which are fries and a soft drink. Those two sides have done vastly more to increase obesity in American than a shift to burgers or a change in the type of burgers we serve. Grain fillers act very similarly."


Sure. It's possible to eat fries (and technically soft drinks, though you're really just shooting yourself in the foot) without running a calorie surplus. You just need to know what you're doing. Foods like fries are less satiating than, say, an actual potato with the skin, so you're more likely to overeat.

Quote :
"To re-invoke the analogy of evolution, humans acting as a society (free market or not) often make dumb changes that don't help them. Like peacocks."


Sure. But, going along with the OP, this in no way supports the claim that a controlled system is better.

1/20/2012 2:48:37 PM

mrfrog

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It's obvious that some controlled systems are function better. Design in the general sense is a replacement for evolution.

The process where butterflies gained flight was evolution.
The process where humans gained flight was design.

The machine that the Wright brothers flew didn't have any particular prior use (a failed flying machine was just junk). The parts existed due to other uses (like bikes) and were re-purposed into a clumsy machine that was only recognized to have importance due to human comprehension.

But there are really 2 arguments against command-and-control government
1. It's ineffective at creating value
2. It doesn't respect the autonomy of the individuals

An argument that uses #1 and not #2 isn't permanently defensible. It only works until someone invents a more efficient version of feudalism. I don't think that means we can't ever "design" a better government, or even economic system. In fact, our patent system is a designed system, IMO. It's not about inherent ownership rights to an idea, because why would they last for some arbitrary # of years? It's a system that exists to encourage people to invent - and create value. It's designed however (or should be) necessary to accomplish the goal.

I think that #2 doesn't prohibit a controlled system, but if a controlled system exists, it should have opt-outs that exist in order to respect the autonomy of the individual.

1/20/2012 4:11:10 PM

d357r0y3r
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Quote :
"It's obvious that some controlled systems are function better. Design in the general sense is a replacement for evolution.

The process where butterflies gained flight was evolution.
The process where humans gained flight was design."


We're talking about systems designed to control human behavior. Controlling material obviously works quite well, and as you say, that's referred to as "design". Planned economies, on the other hand, do not work well, and in some cases have resulted in tragedies.

Quote :
"In fact, our patent system is a designed system, IMO. It's not about inherent ownership rights to an idea, because why would they last for some arbitrary # of years? It's a system that exists to encourage people to invent - and create value. It's designed however (or should be) necessary to accomplish the goal."


Right, and I advocate getting rid of the patent system, as it stifles creativity more than it "protects it". I mean, for the shit storm that PIPA and SOPA has created, people sure have failed to grasp the larger issue of intellectual property - that is, ownership of "information". Hollywood big shots that are little more than middlemen hate the Internet, because it allows people to access entertainment without these middlemen getting their "cut".

Yes, people will always make the argument that, without intellectual property, no one will bother to create. It's just nonsense. Intellectual property was created to guarantee profits, not to benefit the consumer. IP is how Nickelback has more money than every person on this forum combined. IP is how Michael Bay makes more money than actual, legitimate filmmakers than bother with things like "character development" and "plot".

In the context of this discussion, control doesn't mean "organize". Control means, "behave this way, or else". There's no problem with organization, but there's a lot wrong with force.

1/20/2012 4:22:09 PM

Chance
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Quote :
"We've never been to Mars, but I wouldn't ever dream of saying we'll never go there.
"


Of course, you and your ideology buddies keep fighting the good fight. Hell, I'll actually join you once you guys can prove that with enough computers and data that you can make choices from the top down that are free from favoritism and crony influence that doesn't infringe on individual liberty. Even the hard-corest of Libertarians would be forced to question their beliefs if you can devise such a system that can be shown to improve quality of life.

The fact that I only see evidence that we are moving farther away from that happy place as government continues to expand should lead any rational person to question wonder what they are fighting for.

1/20/2012 4:51:42 PM

McDanger
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Quote :
"This is where liberals need to wake up. I think the only reason they exist is that they continue to cling to the hope that maybe one day we'll get the right people in government to really make lives better despite the mountains of evidence pointing to the idea that it just doesn't happen."


How about the mountains of evidence showing us that deregulated capitalism doesn't produce better bosses and owners than the politicians you're pointing out? Right-wingers totally miss that executive power is still power/authority, and bosses/owners can come to wield as much power as any politician.

Liberals are half-awake about this, you're right, but so are you. Only people who recognize that both private and public authority are still just that (authority), and that authority breeds class-interests, understand that the current problem is a mixture of private and public sources. Neither of these would be solved by deregulation just for the sake of it (this doesn't suggest some regulations shouldn't be removed; it means that some regulations are more sensible than others). It's like shooting the police department to end the hostage stand-off ... how do you think the first governments formed? Concentration of private power can legitimize itself politically if dominant for long enough; removing the peoples' democratic control of even more (including what regulatory and protection agencies handle, no matter how poorly) is not going to solve the issue. It's dealing with a violent ape by taking the chains off.

Quote :
"Of course, you and your ideology buddies keep fighting the good fight. Hell, I'll actually join you once you guys can prove that with enough computers and data that you can make choices from the top down that are free from favoritism and crony influence that doesn't infringe on individual liberty. Even the hard-corest of Libertarians would be forced to question their beliefs if you can devise such a system that can be shown to improve quality of life."


I'm confused. Now you justify systems based on how it "can be shown to improve quality of life"? How are you defining quality of life here?

Also: nobody's arguing you can make top-down decisions with a computer simulation or computational theory. That was a School Marxist position best represented today in the Venus Project people. Very few people take this notion seriously; what technology CAN do is empower people by making freedom/movement and gathering/presentation of information easier for them to do on their own. You realize there's not one axis of governmental/political systems that every system falls upon, where at one end is free markets and the other is e-Stalin, right?

[Edited on January 21, 2012 at 10:45 AM. Reason : .]

1/21/2012 10:44:06 AM

aaronburro
BigMan rules
49836 Posts
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Quote :
"how do you think the first governments formed?"

depending on what you call a government, I'd say "not due to capitalism"

1/21/2012 10:46:28 AM

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